Industrial buildings often conjure images of drab boxes creating smog and pollution. Few people associate sustainability with industrial facilities. These buildings, however, have some of the greatest potential for going green and are gaining more recognition for doing so.
Edmund Klimek, a partner with Princeton, N.J.–based KSS Architects, oversees the industrial architecture market for his firm. “A lot of people have been thinking about how green affects buildings that are typical to us—institutional facilities, office buildings, etc.,” he says. “To a large degree, industrial buildings are off to the side. They’re not thought of in the same way.”
That perception is changing. The majority of industrial buildings KSS Architects is working on are pursuing LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. “Sustainability is part of the overall culture of an industrial building,” Klimek explains. “Owners are always looking to be efficient, which lends itself well to sustainability. We are doing a lot with respect to understanding the land we’re developing and how we affect that land and the environment that surrounds us.”
An easy way to reduce costs in an industrial facility is through lighting, which can represent as much as one-third of the energy use. For example, industrial facilities such as storage buildings can benefit from motion sensors. In a typical office building, motion sensors will have about a 10 percent impact on lighting. In industrial buildings, however, the impact from a motion sensor can be up to 30 percent. Changing high-intensity discharge fixtures to fluorescent fixtures also improves energy efficiency. “Dealing with lighting is the first technical thing to do,” Klimek says.
One of the biggest sustainable impacts industrial facilities can make is in relation to land use. KSS Architects completed a project in Carteret, N.J., called iPort12 International Trade & Logistics Center. It transformed a 113-acre (46-hectare) site just off the New Jersey Turnpike into an industrial center. Two buildings with a total area of 1.2 million square feet (111,480 m2) encompass iPort12. The site was a former municipal landfill that previously was leaching waste into and contaminating the adjacent river.
“We cleaned [the site] up and put in a leachate collection system that takes the water, cleans it up and puts it back into the river,” recalls Klimek. “It gave us land we could develop that was adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike. This brings truckers closer to port and the people they serve. At the same time, it reduces the carbon output from the trucks because less distance is traveled. That goes hand in hand with sustainability.”
Another project in Princeton, the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium, used more advanced technology and installed photovoltaic panels on the roof. The building stores rare and archived books, so it had no windows and had to be temperature- and climate-controlled. “The primary source of heat gain for the building is the sun,” Klimek says. “Using solar panels, the building generates the energy it needs when it needs it, which is when the sun is out and the conditioning needed to preserve the books is high.” Not only do the PV panels provide energy for maintaining temperature control of the building’s interior, they also shade the roof, which helps alleviate solar gain. “It was a win-win situation,” Klimek recalls.
“Industrial buildings are different, but they can be sustainable,” Klimek says. “Land planning is one area we’re investigating that has a huge impact on sustainability. Likewise, we’re really taking a hard look at the energy used for trucking and thinking beyond the building. Industrial projects have an opportunity to do that more than most projects.”